Wine pairings for Spaghetti al Finocchio
I love fennel. I love it for its mild anise-like flavor and for its legendary ability to help Prometheus steal fire from the gods.
Anise and liquorice are flavors often found in wine. For this Sunday Pasta, I’ll take that over the vanilla and toast notes of new oak. Still, the wine doesn’t have to have anise notes in it. It just needs to be aromatic enough to match the fennel. Northern Italian wines are particularly well-suited to handle this match. Since I also love drinking lesser-known grape varieties, I’m reaching for Kerner, Silvaner, Ruchè and Grignolino this Sunday.
Kerner is from Germany, and Silvaner is also from Germany as well as Alsace (where it is spelled Sylvaner.) So, that these grapes are grown in Alto Adige, which is still closely linked culturally to Germany, is not surprising. Pacherhof makes delicious, medium-bodied examples of both. Kerner tastes herbal and spicy while Silvaner is more fruit-focused with peaches and yellow plums.
Ruchè and Grignolino are indigenous to Piedmont. Ruchè is deeply colored and full-bodied, often at least 14% alcohol. Grignolino is pale and rather low in alcohol, usually hovering around 12%. Both have just enough delightfully gritty tannin to cut through the olive oil and Parmigiano cheese. At Cascina Tavijn, the young Nadia makes the wines of her family’s estate, helping to save these heritage grapes that others have long since forgotten.
Whether it’s full of anise, hay, plums or blackberries, I hope you enjoy your glass of red or white with this week’s Sunday Pasta!
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)
p.s. Check out the recipe for Spaghetti al Finocchio.